PIESTANY, Slovakia – Despite erasing a 3-1 deficit within the last 4:52 of regulation, the U.S. National Under-17 Team was edged by Slovakia, 4-3, here today in its lone tune-up for the 2010 Vlad Dzurilla Under-18 Tournament. Slovakia's Miroslav Macejko scored with just one second remaining in regulation to give the host country the win.
Team USA got on the board first when Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Conn.) knocked home Cole Bardreau's (Fairport, N.Y.) rebound at the 9:58 mark of the first period. Netminder John Gibson (Pittsburgh, Pa.) turned aside all eight shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes to keep the U.S. ahead 1-0.
Slovakia knotted the score 4:31 into the second period when Martin Kalinac put the puck past Gibson. Boris Krempasky gave Slovakia a 2-1 advantage after his tally at 16:27.
In the final frame, Slovakia doubled its lead after Marek Tvrdon scored at 12:01. Team USA answered back after Jordan Schmaltz (Madison, Wis.) skated in from the blue line, wheeled around a defender and put a backhanded shot under the blocker of netminder Dusan Szalontay with 4:52 remaining in regulation. Just 1:31 later, Reid Boucher (Grand Ledge, Mich.) one-timed a feed from Matt Van Voorhis (Edina, Minn.) past Szalontay to tie the score. However, Team USA was unable to capitalize on the momentum and Macejko's last-second goal allowed Slovakia to earn the 4-3 victory.
Gibson made 34 saves on the afternoon.
The U.S. National Under-17 Team will open tournament play Thursday against Switzerland at 11:15 a.m. (5:15 a.m. EST) in Piestany.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)